RIO DE JANEIRO – The governor-elect of the northeastern Brazilian state of Roraima was named Monday as interim administrator after President Michel Temer removed the outgoing governor amid a strike by police, prison guards and other public employees.
Antonio Denarium, who belongs to the same right-wing PSL party as President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, was originally scheduled to take office Jan. 1.
Between now and then, he will exercise the powers of governor and state finance minister, but with a requirement that he report to the federal government on his actions.
Public employees in Roraima, one of Brazil’s poorest states, have gone unpaid for several months.
“Today, I’m taking over the task of administrator. In practice, we’re going to implement an administrative and tax reform to eliminate unnecessary spending, put an end to irregular contracts and, with the resources that remain, rigorously pay ... all officials,” Denarium said.
The federal takeover was agreed to last week by Temer and outgoing-Gov. Suely Campos, who said that he lacked the political and financial conditions to try and resolve the serious problems.
Campos said that Roraima’s financial crisis worsened with the arrival of thousands of migrants from neighboring Venezuela, to whom the state offered healthcare, housing and education services.
Denarium, who during the campaign backed measures to halt the influx of Venezuelans into Roraima, said that he will discuss the matter with Temer because only the federal government can order the closure of the border or place restrictions on travelers.
According to official figures, between Jan 1. 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, at least 154,920 Venezuelans entered Brazil via the town of Pacaraima, the only border crossing post between the two countries. But more than half of them have already left Brazilian territory.
Despite the fact that police in Roraima have not formally declared a strike, officers’ wives set up camps in front of the police barracks to prevent their husbands from taking to the streets to protest the delay in salary payments.
The strike by prison guards, meanwhile, led the Attorney General’s Office to demand immediate measures amid fears that the massacres of prisoners that have been common in Roraima prisons in recent months would commence once again.